Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Report Upends Standard Take on Cap and Trade Loss

27.04.2011
A Nature.com editorial calls Climate Shift: Clear Vision for the Next Decade of Public Debate by American University Professor Matthew Nisbet “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate-change debate.” The new research challenges the commonly-held view that cap and trade legislation failed because of the spending advantages of opponents and false balance in news coverage.

“There is a tendency among environmentalists and scientists to blame political inaction on the spending advantage enjoyed by conservatives and on false balance in media coverage,” says Nisbet.

“However, this analysis shows that the effort by environmentalists to pass cap and trade may have been the best financed political cause in history and that news coverage of climate change overwhelmingly reflected the consensus view among scientists.”

As leaders and experts consider next steps in the climate change debate, the report is intended to inform decision making. The report’s analysis finds that although there was once “false balance” in coverage, since 2003 that has not been the case. It also shows that in 2009, the national environmental groups working on climate change out-fundraised and out-spent conservative think tanks, groups and industry associations aligned against cap and trade legislation on climate change and energy policy efforts.

The report also examines the decision making of nine aligned major foundations, led by ClimateWorks, which funded a network of organizations advocating for a mandatory cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

“Contrary to conventional wisdom, these major foundations have been as strategic in targeting specific policy outcomes as even conservative philanthropists such as the Koch brothers,” says Nisbet. “Yet this focus and strategy has overlooked several key dimensions of societal action.”

Pairing rigorous, in-depth research with an accessible narrative, the report is designed for an audience beyond the Ivory Tower. As a social scientist, Nisbet studies strategic communication in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over science, the environment and public health. Since 2007 he’s examined public opinion and climate change, looking at the influence of the media and how groups can effectively communicate about the issue. He has published articles in peer-reviewed journals, blogged, written popular press articles, and given talks. The author of more than three dozen peer-reviewed studies, he serves on the editorial boards of Science Communication and the International Journal of Press/Politics. His research is funded by the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, where he serves as a Health Policy Investigator. In 2011, he was named a Google Science Communication Fellow in recognition of his work on climate change.

Nisbet estimates that the nine foundations distributed at least $368 million between 2008 and 2010 to organizations working on climate change and energy policy. More than half this funding was given to just 25 groups, 14 of which were national leaders in the effort to pass cap and trade legislation. As the top recipient of funding, nearly one out of every 10 dollars ($34.6 million) went to the Bipartisan Policy Center, exceeding the $31.3 million distributed by Koch-affiliated foundations to all conservative organizations active on climate change between 2005 and 2009. (Exxon Mobil gave $8.9 million during this period).

Yet the 50-page strategy document that guided the foundations’ investments, according to Nisbet’s analysis, was notable for its “absence of any discussion of social, political or cultural dimensions of the challenge.” As his analysis shows, there were comparatively limited amounts of funding focused on the role of government in promoting new technology and innovation. Nor was there equivalent investment in adaptation, health, equity, justice, job creation or economic development.

Nisbet’s report additionally reviews the likely causes for the decline in public concern and belief in climate change in recent years. As he finds, opinion trends show historically that concern with the environment declines appreciably with a rise in unemployment levels, as was the case in 2009 and 2010. And, while Republicans are deservedly blamed for promoting polarization on the issue, admired Democratic leaders also shoulder responsibility. Since 2002, Al Gore has consistently sought to mobilize progressives politically, pairing his messages about climate science with attacks on Republicans.

Nisbet also examines how ideology, just as it does among the general public, shapes the views and the interpretations of climate change advocates. Analyzing a representative survey of members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Nisbet concludes that a strongly one-sided ideological outlook likely leads many scientists and environmentalists to overlook how economic trends and their own actions might diminish public concern, and instead focus on presumed flaws in media coverage or the activities of conservatives. Moreover, as organizations such as the AAAS train and encourage their members to engage in public outreach, most participants are likely to view politics very differently from the audiences with which they are trying to communicate, a challenge that merits greater attention as part of these trainings.

The report can be found at www.ClimateShiftProject.org. The study was funded by a $100,000 grant from the Ecological Innovation program at the Nathan Cummings Foundation.

Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in the School of Communication at American University. As a social scientist, he studies strategic communication in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over science, the environment and public health. The author of more than three dozen peer-reviewed studies, he serves on the editorial boards of Science Communication and the International Journal of Press/Politics. His research is funded by the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, where he serves as a Health Policy Investigator. In 2011, he was named a Google Science Communication Fellow in recognition of his work on climate change. He holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Communication from Cornell University and an A.B. in Government from Dartmouth College.

American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and nearly 140 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world.

Wes Hickman | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.american.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

nachricht Urbanization to convert 300,000 km2 of prime croplands
27.12.2016 | Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) gGmbH

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>